Board of Police and Fire Commissioners Holds Monthly Meeting

The board discussed procedural matters and interviewed an applicant for the police department while operating with 60% attendance.


The Board of Fire and Police Commissioners met last night at the Central Fire Station on Walnut Avenue. 

The meeting started twenty minutes late as the board struggled to meet a quorum, a legal term which means the minimum number of attendees required to conduct business. 

One commissioner had reportedly forgotten the meeting time and had to be called down to the fire station. 

Police and Fire Commissioners are appointed by the Mayor of Freeport. All members of the current board were appointed by Jodi Miller. 

The Board of Fire and Police Commissioners is made up of 4 men and 1 woman. All are white.

The commissioners are Mark Gridley (Board Chair), Vince Oblak, Tammy Byrnes, Bob Smith, and William Leibman. 

At the July 28th meeting, commissioners talked about upcoming retirements in the police force and fire department, approved several payment invoices, and discussed some rule changes. 

While many of the proposed rule changes were minor, focusing on grammatical errors or outdated references, one potentially significant rule change would affect the timing of when the police department gives polygraph tests to potential hires. 

Currently, the police department only gives polygraph tests to applicants who have already received a “conditional offer of employment”. An attorney recommended that they give polygraph tests to all applicants before any potential offers of employment are given out. 

The rules changes could have been approved at the meeting, but Commissioner Bob Smith expressed a desire to read through the large proposal and receive input from the two commissioners absent from the meeting before moving forward. 

The meeting ended with an executive session, closed to the public, in which the board of commissioners and Police Chief Matthew Summers interviewed a potential hire for the police department. 

According to Board Chair Mark Gridley, the civilian board attempts to act independently of the city departments. Commissioners are given a chance to interview applicants to the police and fire departments. In normal years unaffected by COVID-19, the commissioners travel to conferences to learn about how to conduct civilian oversight and be effective. 

The Board of Police and Fire Commissioners meets once a month. Meetings are open to the public. 

The next regular meeting will be held August 25th at 5:30pm.